She is one of the most vivacious actresses of Malayalam cinema. Muthumani Somasundaram, who began her career with Sathyan Anthikkad's "Rasathanthram", is now one of the most sought after actresses for character roles.
Her latest film "Njan" starring Dulquer Salmaan in the lead has hit the theatres and the actress is elated about the response she has been receiving for her role. Muthumani Somasundaram opens up with International Business Times India Edition about "Njan" and her film career.
Your latest film "Njan' has received positive responses. What were your thoughts when you were approached for this role?
When you sign up for a film by directors like Ranjith sir, Sathyan Anthikkad sir or Rosshan sir, there is always a minimum assurance or expectation. Story of the film becomes secondary, if I get offers from these directors. I am just happy that I could be part of films from someone like Ranjith sir.
What kind of preparations did you go through for your character in "Njan"?
To be frank, nothing much. Ranjith sir called and told me about the film, which he is planning to do based on the novel "KTN Kottur". He asked me to read the book and see if I am interested.
Initially, he did not tell me the role he was planning to give me. So I called him after reading the novel. He asked me to guess the role, but I was a little confused to say anything. Then I was told about my character and asked me to read it again. It is very challenging and may be first of its kind film in Malayalam.
Were you concerned about playing the role of an aged woman?
Not really. After reading the novel, I was only concerned whether I will be able to justify this character. I had asked Ranjith sir about this and all he said was to come with a clear mind and assured we would picture the role together. The best part about the film was that each character in the film was moulded by the director himself. He knew what he wanted from each of us. I was brought up in Ernakulum (Central Kerala) and the North Kerala culture that is portrayed in the film was completely new for me. Ranjith sir is from the same locality of the storyline. So he helped me with the dialect in which people from that region spoke and even the way they walked.
"Njan" is your second film with Ranjith after "Kadal Kadonnoru Mathukutty". How was the experience in both the films?
The shooting of "Kadal Kadonnoru Mathukutty" spanned for eight to 10 days. I was tensed and had my own apprehensions when I went for the shooting. But Mammootty sir and Ranjith sir made it easy for me and all went in a jovial mood.
For "Njan", it was closely-knit group and most of us had theatre background. After the first schedule, we were all eagerly waiting for the second one to begin. Our stay was quite far from our shooting spot, but all of us would be there, irrespective of whether we had a shot or not. We would watch others act or even help them with the costumes. Sometimes, we had our shot at night, but no one ever complained. In fact, all of us were feeling bad to return home when we completed the shoot.
Did you expect the female characters of "Njan" to be well-received?
As I told you before, I was happy to receive this role as it is first of its kind film in Malayalam industry. The story of the film was set in a completely unfamiliar zone. Let it be the mannerism or the situations - the female characters of the film were beautifully etched by the director so that they stay in audience's heart forever.
The best part was that each of us had our space and if you take away any of them, the story would be incomplete. It is rare in Malayalam cinema to get such characters and films, which give importance to female characters. So we all did our part well and I am happy that the audience have conceived these characters in a better way than we had expected.
Are you choosy about the characters you play?
I am not at all choosy. All I can say is that it all just happened. I am just happy that I am living my passion, which is acting. I like to do good projects, want to see acting as an art and do the films from the audience's perspective.
It is true, that I don't do much lengthy roles, but what matters here is the kind of roles you do. For example my part in "Munnariyippu" was small, but still had an impact in the story. In fact, the shooting of "Munnariyuppu" and "Njan" was taking place simultaneously and I did not even ask Venu sir about my role in the film. With "Munnariyippu", what I thought was that the film is produced by Ranjith sir, directed by Venu sir and the script by R Unni. So there is some kind of trust in them which made me do the film.
From the very first film, you have worked with the best directors in the industry. So are you choosy about your directors?
Not all. There might be a maximum of three or four films, which I have said no till date and some of them have not even taken off. My first film "Rasathanthram" was not even my choice. It was a family decision. I sat with my parents and discussed and did the film.
I was studying at NUALS then, where the attendance was strict. But Sathyan sir made sure that I was scheduled only on Saturdays and Sundays. Rest as they say, fell in the right place and the offers that came to me were good.
You are from a theatrical background. Has it helped in your film career?
Yes I think my theatre career is the reason I am here. They say theatre artistes take a baggage with them to cinema. But directors like Sathyan Anthikkad have tapped the best in me.
My first shot in "Rasathanthram" was with Mohanlal, Bharath Gopi and KPAC Lalitha who are stalwarts when it comes to theatre. They were very helpful in getting the right emotions from me. Gopi sir would guide me in my antics and had given some great advices.
What are your future projects?
As you know, I had a corporate professional background too. So I have developed a module using my theatre experience to train corporates on their behavioural skills and it is going well.
In terms of films, there isn't anything that I have confirmed yet. I am currently discussing a film titled, "Vambathy", directed by Ramya, who was associate of Siby Malayil sir. The film will star Fahadh Faasil, but has not been announced yet. So if everything goes fine, that will be my next.